Tchaikowsky's "Merchant of Venice" offers further proof of David Pountney's eye for buried gems of the opera literature and continues his series of Bregenz Festival first performances and premieres. The tried and trusted team behind Keith Warner and an elite cast make the posthumous premiere at this year's Bregenz Festival "a restitution to remember" (London Telegraph).

Composer André Tchaikowsky – whose grandmother had smuggled him out of the Warsaw Ghetto under a false name as a child, naming him after the great Russian composer – first made his mark in Great Britain as a concert pianist. Despite his immense success, Tchaikowsky’s real passion was for composition. "The Merchant of Venice", after William Shakespeare's play of that name, was nevertheless to remain his only opera: the composer succumbed to stomach cancer not long after. The score is intricate and dark, with moments of both brutality and lyricism, not to mention flashes of acerbic wit. It defies attribution to any one definite style of 20th-century composition, intelligently drawing on Benjamin Britten, Igor Stravinsky and Claude Debussy.

Bassanio (Charles Workman: "effortless command of the tenor register", Neue Musik Zeitung), a young nobleman in Renaissance Venice and would-be suitor of the fair Portia, lacks the money to pursue his suit and seeks a loan from the merchant Antonio. Antonio's wealth is tied up in shipping ventures and so he suggests to borrow the necessary sum from the Jewish moneylender Shylock. But Shylock (Adrian Eröd: "as memorable for his acting as for his voice", Kurier) sees this as an opportunity to settle scores with Antonio…

"Under the direction of soundscaper Erik Nielsen this opera sounds wonderfully brilliant, light-footed, with comedic swing" (Die Zeit). - "Great, moving music drama" (Stuttgarter Zeitung).


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Associated Collections

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Peter Tschaikowsky

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Bregenz: Oper im Festspielhaus

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Bregenz Festival